First National Bank of Atlanta/Wachovia Bank, N.A.
The First National Bank of Atlanta (also called First Atlanta) is the successor bank to Atlanta National
In 1916 Atlanta National Bank acquired American National Bank, also based in Atlanta. In 1924 that organization merged with Lowry Bank and Trust to form Atlanta and Lowry National Bank. In 1929 that company merged with Fourth National Bank to form the First National Bank of Atlanta, the largest bank in the United States south of Philadelphia. In the 1950s the Georgia state banking laws changed to limit banking consolidations across city and county lines, and bank mergers slowed until the 1970s, when acquisition of banks across county lines was again permitted.
First Atlanta Corporation merged in December 1985 with Wachovia Corporation, the holding company for Wachovia Bank, N.A., originally chartered in 1879 and based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Atlanta National Bank charter remained operative until interstate banking legislation, passed by Congress in the 1990s, allowed bank holding companies to merge multiple bank charters into a single banking organization, and the Atlanta National charter was surrendered in favor of the charter of Wachovia Bank.
In September 2001
While the First National Bank of Atlanta, and later Wachovia Bank of Georgia, were consolidating banking institutions across Georgia, an even older banking organization, based in Augusta, was also acquiring banks in Georgia. The Georgia Railroad and Banking Company, formed in 1833, began banking activities in 1835 under a state charter. This charter was extended in 1870, and in 1890 the bank charter was transferred to the Georgia Railroad Bank. In 1954 the First Railroad and Banking Company of Georgia was organized as a holding company for the bank.
During the 1970s and 1980s First Railroad merged with or acquired a number of other distinguished banking institutions in Georgia, including Savannah Bank and Trust Company, First National Bank of Columbus, and First National Bank of Valdosta. In 1986 First Railroad and Georgia Railroad Bank were acquired in an interstate merger by First Union Corporation, parent company of First Union National Bank, originally chartered as Union National Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina. Subsequently, First Union National Bank of Georgia acquired Roswell Bank, Georgia Federal Bank, FSB (formerly Atlanta Federal Savings and Loan Association), and Decatur Federal Savings and Loan Association.
At the beginning of the twenty-first century the new Wachovia Bank is positioned as one of the leading full-service financial institutions in the United States, assisting more than 1 million households and 100,000 businesses in Georgia in attaining their financial objectives. Nationally, Wachovia was ranked in 2006 as the fourth-largest bank holding company, based on assets of approximately $542 billion. Branches in 2002 included approximately 2,700 "financial centers" and 530 brokerage offices.
Joseph B. Cumming, A History of Georgia Railroad and Banking Company and Corporate Affiliates 1833-1958, with supp. 1958-1970 ([Augusta, Ga.]: privately printed, 1971).
A History of Banking and Wachovia: A Course Well Charted (Winston-Salem, N.C.: Wachovia Corporation, 1991).
Thomas D. Hills, Atlanta
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